Posted in Family, Parenting, Personal

Parenting: It’s not for Sissies

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I know I did. Although, it seems like the holidays fly by faster and faster every year. I love the holidays and it’s always great to get together with the family and catch up.

I was also productive with my writing. I got a couple of scenes done and I’m getting closer to the end. I’m hoping I’ll get this done by the end of the year or maybe even January. Cross your fingers for me. It’s getting close. 😊

 

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the sadness of watching your children grow and become more independent. I know they’re supposed to grow up and move away, but I get so much joy just hanging out with them and hearing their stories that it makes me sad to think about the time when they won’t be there. I’m sure every parent experiences this, but for some reason, I’m becoming more acutely aware of it every year that passes.

Photo credit: Ted’s photos – For Me & You on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

I enjoyed all of it, watching them grow and watching their personalities develop. That’s why when I hear statistics saying that the suicide rate for teens has doubled. It scares me. I don’t want to lose my kids to something like that. So, I talk to them about depression and anxiety. I tell them that anxiety runs in our family and if they’re feeling anxious, they can talk to me or the hubster. But I worry. I worry that talking about it isn’t enough.

So, I try to tell them about coping mechanisms they can use to relieve their anxiety or stress. I tell them how exercise is a great way to calm your mind. I’m hoping to get them into the habit of exercising at least three or four times a week. Right now, they have gym class so it’s not a big deal, but later in life exercising a couple times a week will help them manage their stress.

Photo on Visual hunt

I’m trying to prepare them for every situation that comes down the pike, but this is an impossible task. Some things we can only learn through experiencing them first hand.  I hope I’ve given them enough so they’re resilient when adversity strikes. I hope. I hope. I hope.

I know every parent has these thoughts and feelings and I’ll get through them, but I miss those years when they were younger, and they came to me with all their problems. Those years went by so fast. In the blink of an eye they became teenagers with smart mouths and sassy attitudes. I love to hear them stand up for themselves though. It does my heart good to know they’re not afraid to voice their opinion even if they’re different from mine.

Photo on Visualhunt.com

Parenting is a tough gig. No one prepares you for when the kids start to leave the nest. Sigh. They’re not there yet, but it’s coming, and I can tell when it happens, I’m going to be a mess. Thanks for reading my rambling post today. Do you have any ideas on how to handle your kids’ growing independence? If you’ve got some advice, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Family, mental-health, Parenting

Why it’s imperative to Communicate with Your Teen about Mental Illness in your Family

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a weekend of picking out countertops, (yes, hubby and I have a home project) and fun stuff like laundry and housework.

I’m transitioning from running outside to running inside on the treadmill and I must say, it has been hard because running on the treadmill can be rather boring to say the least, but enough about that. I don’t want to talk about the treadmill today. LOL.

I was able to get some writing time in, but not as much as I would’ve liked. Sigh. There just aren’t enough minutes in the day sometimes, but enough about that, too. Today, I’d like to talk about the book I’ve been reading. “The Stressed Years of their Lives.”

 

It’s an excellent book and I recommend it for any parent whose kids are approaching high school or college age. It talks about how teen depression and anxiety is on the rise and how a mental illness can develop during this stressful period.

If you have a history of depression or anxiety in your family, it’s imperative that you communicate this to your children, so if they experience this type of reaction to stress, they’ll know what they’re dealing with. Sweeping it under the rug does not help them in any way shape or form. It only adds to their confusion and their shame.

Photo on Visual hunt

Sadly, when kids are experiencing anxiety or depression, they tend to lean toward self-medication or drinking and partying. When kids party too much, they can develop alcohol poisoning or even worse, OD. It’s because they aren’t experienced enough with drinking or drugs to know what their limits are. This leaves them vulnerable. When they pass out, they can be victimized by other intoxicated students who have impaired judgement.

Photo on VisualHunt

So, start talking to your kids now and tell them that anxiety runs in the family and it has many forms, like obsessive worrying, irrational fears, and perfectionism. These can all lead to an anxiety attack. Give them the information they need to identify what they’re dealing with, then give them the tools to help them handle the situation.

Unfortunately, we can’t prepare them for every stressor in life, but if we can help them develop their critical thinking, maybe they’ll have the tools to apply what they’ve learned from one situation to another.

In the book, it talks about how teens’ executive functioning skills aren’t fully developed yet, so that adds another dimension to the situation, because there’s no way to speed that process up. At least, not one that I’m aware of yet.

Photo credit: Daniela Hartmann (alles-schlumpf) on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

 

So, what it all boils down to is communicate with your kids, tell them if anxiety or mental illness runs in the family, so if they start developing symptoms, they’ll know to come to you for help or to seek out a mental health professional.

This book is pure gold for parents. I can’t recommend it enough. There is a lot to this book, so I’m going to be writing about it in a couple of different blog posts. So, stay tuned and let me know what you think! Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Posted in Parenting, Personal, Teen

The Book Every Parent Needs to Read

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy weekend of writing, family time, running, and cleaning. Yes. I was able to get all of that in in one weekend. LOL! Plus, a date night with my hubby! 😉

I also picked up a book recommended to me by one of my friends, so I thought I’d pass the information on to you. It’s called “The Stressed Years of their Lives.” It’s about helping kids handle the college years and beyond.

 

From two leading child and adolescent mental health experts comes a guide for the parents of every college and college-bound student who want to know what’s normal mental health and behavior, what’s not, and how to intervene before it’s too late.

“The title says it all…Chock full of practical tools, resources and the wisdom that comes with years of experience, The Stressed Years of their Lives is destined to become a well-thumbed handbook to help families cope with this modern age of anxiety.”
― Brigid Schulte, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of Overwhelmed and director of the Better Life Lab at New America

All parenting is in preparation for letting go. However, the paradox of parenting is that the more we learn about late adolescent development and risk, the more frightened we become for our children, and the more we want to stay involved in their lives. This becomes particularly necessary, and also particularly challenging, in mid- to late adolescence, the years just before and after students head off to college. These years coincide with the emergence of many mood disorders and other mental health issues.

When family psychologist Dr. B. Janet Hibbs’s own son came home from college mired in a dangerous depressive spiral, she turned to Dr. Anthony Rostain. Dr. Rostain has a secret superpower: he understands the arcane rules governing privacy and parental involvement in students’ mental health care on college campuses, the same rules that sometimes hold parents back from getting good care for their kids. Now, these two doctors have combined their expertise to corral the crucial emotional skills and lessons that every parent and student can learn for a successful launch from home to college.

 

 

In our society, suicide is the second largest killer of our young people today. Let that sink in. It’s the second largest, know what the first is? Accidental overdoses and alcohol poisoning. I don’t know about you, but these statistics scare me. What is happening to our young people today?

I compare my teen years to my kids’ teen years, and it is a totally different era. I know it was a long time ago, but still. 😉

I was so much more active than kids are these days. We used to play kick the can and capture the flag with our neighborhood friends until dark. Summer was a magical time. I was outside all day. Kids these days are not. We have become the indoor generation. I try to get them outside for at least an hour a day, but when the weather’s bad or it’s too hot. It isn’t always possible. Parents are caught between providing for their kids, meaning both work or making sacrifices, where one spouse stays home, and maybe having their kids apply for student loans to get through school. Then the kids are strapped with thirty thousand dollars or more in debt when they get out of school. No wonder our kids are stressed.

 

Photo credit: Mitchio on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

 

According to the authors of the book, we are in a constant state of striving. Striving toward our goals, striving to be the best we can be, and striving to live our best life. So, our kids lack the skills of self-care and behavior management that they so desperately need, and they are woefully unprepared for college life and beyond. I agree with this statement. I remember the high anxiety I felt during those early years. Fear of making a mistake and becoming a failure before the age of twenty-five.

As parents, we need to teach our kids reasonable expectations. They aren’t going to have it all by the time they’re twenty-five. They just aren’t. It might take them a few years to find that perfect job or the right spouse, and we have to teach them there are going to be bumps in the road. For example, room-mate issues, nasty break-ups, and sometimes getting fired from a job. We have to teach them to manage dealing with a bad boss, because sometimes you have to put up with that because you need the job. They must learn the world is an imperfect place and life just isn’t fair. We must teach them strength of character, grit, and resilience. They must learn how to overcome obstacles, deal with rejection, and learn to keep moving forward.

 

Photo credit: Sangudo on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

This book is going to give me insight on how to do just that. I’m hoping it’ll give me tools to help my kids manage their fears and anxiety, so they don’t become paralyzed when dealing with some of the issues I’ve mentioned. And lastly, and most importantly, it will help me convey to them that when life does become too much to bear, like a nasty break-up or getting fired from a job, that they can reach out for help. Help from parents, grandparents, and even professional counselors. So, I will keep you all posted on the golden nuggets I get from this book and I urge you to pick up a copy yourself.

Do you have any tried and true methods of helping your teens deal with anxiety and depression? What are they? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Uncategorized

Chemo Update Number Seven

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you.  I’m back today with another chemo update. This one is late in coming because of the holidays and the emotional issues that go along with chemo.

I was prepared for the physical side effects, but sad to say the emotional ones have blindsided me. I wasn’t prepared for the anxiety and depression that seems to go along with treatment.

The anxiety hit me like a runaway freight train. One day I was fine, the next day I started worrying about everything. Even little everyday things seemed to cause an inordinate amount of stress for me. Couple that with the stress of raising two little boys and there are some days I’m wired tighter than a piano string.

I was able to get some anti-anxiety medication and it seems to help, but I still feel anxious sometimes and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide out until this process is over.

Of course, I still have some physical symptoms like the nausea, but that’s not as bad as it was in the beginning, which does help. The newest side effect is the numbness in my hands and feet. This is scary for me, because it generally goes away when you finish chemo, but it can be permanent. So of course, this causes me some anxiety as well, but there’s really nothing I can do about it except pray that it’s not permanent.

However, it does help to write about all of this, it eases some of the anxiety, and hearing from all of you helps. Your kind words and prayers make me feel less alone in this battle.

I also have a wonderful support system. My hubby who has picked up a lot of the slack even though he has encountered some health issues of his own. My family and my husband’s family as well as colleagues from work have all stepped forward and made offers of assistance.

I want to say thank you to everyone who has assisted me at this time in my life. I’ve been blessed by not only strong family members and colleagues, but by authors, editors, and publishers as well. Thank you so much for your support and prayers they mean a lot to me. Thank you. I am truly blessed.